How to do long distance friendships
When it comes to long distance friendships, it takes a special kind of commitment to make it work. This determines the friends we have for life, from those we treasure but let go.
I have one very close friend Fera, who taught me the best lessons I know on how to maintain long distance friendships. Today we live hours apart, and yet I feel as close to her now, as I ever did living in the same city.
1. Send cards
That first 'Hello' card meant so much to me. It was my first 'just because' post, and it made me realise that you don't need an occasion to get in touch! I love the feeling of a handwritten note, both in sending and receiving, and I try as best I can to find the time to so.
Paperless Post is a brilliant way of sending that same feeling, via email. Recently I found out that a work friend of mine had got engaged, I was a few weeks behind the news (and she lives across the Atlantic) and so I speedily whipped together a beautiful Paperless Post card which rained with (virtual) confetti when she opened it.
I know that sending a card via email may seem less emotional to some, but I urge you to give Paperless Post a try – their designs are beautiful – and you can personalize all elements.
2. Say hi. Even if it is just "Hi!"
My sister only lives thirty minutes away from me, but our work/life commitments mean that sometimes it's a couple of weeks between each time we see each other. A few mornings a week we just text each other to say "Hi!". It's so nice to know that she is thinking of me, even if we can only sneak in that few seconds.
Next time you think of a friend you haven't seen in a while, just send them a simple "Hello! Have a great day!" It'll make all the difference to them, and will likely spark an exchange of texts which will put a smile on both of your faces.
3. Remember special occasions
I can probably count on my fingers the amount of Birthdays I know by heart. Family, Oli and my oldest friends whose Birthdays fall one day after the other. Now I set reminders in my phone, and check Facebook to see who's Birthday is coming up soon.
A personal message, even if it is via Facebook is always appreciated.
Occasions other than Birthdays are also important. If your friend mentions that they have a job interview coming up, jot it down with a reminder to send them a 'Good Luck!' the day before. Knowing that you have cheerleaders is always a confidence boost!
Unfortunately as my friends and I have got older, many of us have experienced loss as well as joy. At these times, it is particularly poignant to get a note, text, or email from a friend offering support. With that in mind . . .
4. Call on each other in times of need.
Have you ever got that feeling that you just 'know' a friend needs to talk? Sometimes I haven't spoken to a friend in months, but there's a voice in the back of my head saying "you better call!" This is likely because we're off sync with our contact, but still, I'm always spooked when the feeling is right!
In the past I have been guilty of distancing myself from friends, at times when I need them most. If you are going through a tricky spot, the worst thing you can do is shun the people who are there to support you.
With long distance friendships you can't always gage how a person is feeling day to day, which makes it all the more important to reach out if you do need support, a rant, or just a good cry! I am ALL about a problem shared, a problem halved, so ring, text, email . . . !
NB: Deciding on THE perfect dress for your big first date, is reason enough to make that call.
5. Visit each other.
This is easier for some than others! But if you can, do visit. Even if you have to plan a year in advance!
Take the opportunity of the long distance to make every visit to each other like a mini holiday. There's no need to do a lot when you do see each other (feeling pressured to host can be stressful) just know that you are there for each other, and most likely just want to chat. And chat some more.
6. Use technology to your every advantage.
Duh, Skype! I was SO slow on adopting Skype, but just recently I've been using it all the time. Five minutes ago I was nattering with my Dad! Skype, FaceTime, SnapChat . . . all amazing for checking in, and actually seeing our loved ones.
When you can't physically see someone for months, having a live conversation is the next best thing. I love that you can potter about your room, relaxed in your own environment.
When I am going to Skype a friend, I like to make up a lovely cup of tea just before sitting down so it's like having a coffee date together! Come Summer, I may even rustle up a cocktail.
7. Send gifts.
Fera (yes famous Fera!) gave Oli and I matching mugs as a moving in present last March. Every day when I make my morning coffee, it reminds me of her and her husband.
Sending gifts which you know your friends will use often, is a great way to stay in each others' thoughts.
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